Keeping Your Naughty Kids on the Nice List

Before we begin, a little housekeeping. Congratulations to Tiffani Hughes! You are the winner of Accidentally Amish by Olivia Newport! Email me asap with your contact info so that you can get your book. Thanks!



I don’t know about yours, but I think my kids have gone nuts.

Something about twinkling colored lights, Christmas music, and the excitement of Santa on the air has made them turn into…crazy people. And right here at the time of year when they are supposed to be on their “best” behavior!

Several other moms have recently mentioned to me that it seems the number of discipline problems they are facing has gone up lately, too.

Some want to blame excitement. Others want to blame the moon. Still some want to just say “it’s that time of year…”

I think it’s a combination of all those things and more, so I came up with this little list of things we can do as parents to make sure these kids stay on the nice list.

1. Don’t use Santa as a behavior deterrent.

I’ve done it before– said, “Santa is watching you.” But I realized a while back that this is not a good thing to tell them. Why? Because I don’t want my children correcting their behavior just because they want toys. No, I want them to correct their behavior because they are convicted of their sin. That might seem a little deep to you, but raising children is a year-round job, so using Santa as a deterrent is only a temporary fix, and does nothing to correct the heart– where the root of the problem lies. Instead of talking about Santa, my husband and I remind them of our expectations for their behavior and of God’s. We want them to learn to do what’s right because it’s in their hearts, which is part of the Christmas spirit anyway.

2. Don’t give into the idea that punishments can be delayed because “it’s Christmas.”

This is my favorite time of year. I love it. I want to enjoy it and I want my kids to enjoy it. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to get wrapped up in the ambiance of the happiness of the season and slack off on discipline and punishments. We’re all tempted to do it, I know, especially when a child’s punishment impedes on our fun.

I’ll never forget the Christmas when I was about 7 or 8 years old and we celebrated with my grandparents at their house in North Carolina. My sister got this little plastic key-chain, and for some reason, I wanted it. I wasn’t happy with anything else I’d gotten, and my jealousy and covetousness came out u.g.l.y. My mom sent me upstairs, away from the rest of the family. I was banned from Christmas until I could get rid of my jealous heart. It wasn’t until that moment that I understood what jealousy was and how it could be so ugly. When I got myself under control and rejoined Christmas, I had a new perspective of gratefulness for what I had received. My mom took a hard line with me that morning and could easily have let my behavior go because “it was Christmas” and because sending me away from the family celebration wasn’t ideal. It hurt and embarrassed my parents and made for some awkward moments. But it taught me a life-long lesson, one I have never EVER forgotten.

3. Stick to it.      

Anyone else like to blur their eyes when looking at the Christmas tree?

Anyone else like to blur their eyes when looking at the Christmas tree?

If you issue a warning, follow through. Even at Christmas. Even if it means that some of the “Christmas Spirit” is lost from your house temporarily. Children need consistency, even during the holidays.

4. Make sure your kiddos are getting enough sleep.

Just think about how stressed and tired you can get during the holidays–now transfer that to their little bodies! In the hustle and bustle of this busy season, it’s very easy to let naps slide or push back bedtimes. Since lack of sleep can be a direct factor in behavior, make sure your kids are getting enough sleep during this holiday season. A little nap here and there can be good for you, too!

5. Have some fun.

Make memories with your children this year. Enjoy their excitement and the magic of the season by being involved. Don’t let that same old hustle and bustle keep you so busy that you miss opportunities to make life-long memories. After all, you’ll only celebrate this year’s Christmas once! Get messy in the kitchen with some Christmas cookies. Let your kids help wrap the presents and don’t worry that the bows are lopsided and tape is showing. Watch those Christmas specials you’ve outgrown, just because they’re part of your childhood.

Let your kids enjoy the season by seeing the magic and majesty of Christ’s birth in you!

Merry Christmas, all! 🙂

Share with me: What tips can you offer for keeping both kids and parents sane during this holiday season?

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Filed under Parenting

5 responses to “Keeping Your Naughty Kids on the Nice List

  1. Great ideas, Jen. Whenever I have kids, you’re going to become like a mentor to me or something, k? 😉

  2. My kids are little angels….BAHAHAHAHA!!!!
    Two are taller than me. I have to be creative. The boys are great and we rarely have any problems with them anyway. Our daughter doesn’t live at home. But when they were itty bitty? I didn’t take any mischief. I am the Queen, not the democratically elected ruler.

  3. i take out my contacts to look at the christmas tree lights all the time. looks just like that. 🙂

    i also just had two hellacious days with my sweet angel b/c there wasn’t enough sleep going on. we were at the church to 9:00 both tuesday and wednesday….and it’s about a 15 min drive back home….she was not in a good mood and made me want to shoot her eye out (not that i would…just sayin’….)

    • Been there!! My oldest hasn’t taken naps in quite some time, but I made him take a daily nap on his last 3 day weekend– the time change had seriously seriously seriously affected his behavior. It was insane.

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